Photo by John Dorton/ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams wasn’t kidding when he said that Christian Pulisic, Haji Wright, and Joe Gallardo were among the best players in the world in their age group.
The high-powered American trio proved too much for opposing teams as the U.S. U-17s took home the 2014 Josip Katalinski International Tournament title. The U.S. clinched the title on Sunday with a 4-1 victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina’s U-17s, with Pulisic recording a hat-trick after Wright’s opener.
Combined in the three-match tournament, Pulisic, Wright, and Gallardo scored a total of nine goals.
The U.S. began the tournament by thrashing Montenegro last Thursday, 5-0. Wright scored four goals in the rout and Gallardo added one of his own in between Wright’s first two and last two goals of the game. Both Pulisic and forward Pierre Da Silva recorded two assists each. Next up was a Sarejevo select squad, which saw midfielder Alejandro Zendejas earn the U-17s a 1-1 tie with a 71st minute equalizer.
Finally, on Sunday, Pulisic’s hat-trick behind Wright’s early opener lead the way as the U.S. finished on top in the tournament. All three matches were 80 minute games, per U.S. Soccer.
The tournament title is the U-17s third title in the last four months. The U.S. won the Nike International Friendlies in Florida last December and followed that up with the Aegean Cup title in Turkey last January.
In addition to the impressive goal-scoring, U.S. defender Andrew Arellano was named the tournament’s best defender.
Before returning home, the U-17s will face Croatia’s U-17s in a pair of international friendlies this week in Zagreb, Croatia. The first match takes place on Tuesday at Stadion Zapresic, while the second match on Thursday takes place at Dinamo Zagreb’s training center.
What do you think of this news? Proud of the U.S. U-17s? Impressed with their attacking ability? Think that the foreign-based players (Gallardo and Barbir) made the difference?
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